If we would take the basics of the Christian faith seriously, then we must begin with what Jesus actually said.
Of God's Choice

Jesus said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight" (Matt. 11:25, 26).

By these words Jesus thanks His Father for His sovereign will to hide the truth of the gospel from some and to reveal it to others, thanks Him for His righteous choice. Nor is the cause of this will of God found in man but in God alone, for "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight." Therefore Jesus says, "Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him" (Matt. 11:27). According to His Father's will, Jesus, the Son, causes some to know the Father, by revealing Him to them, bringing them as laboring and heavy laden to Himself (Matt. 11:28). They are His sheep, who hear His voice. Christ gives them saving faith to hear with the hearing of faith. Christ knows them personally. He said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). The others are not His sheep. To them He does not reveal the Father. To them He does not give saving faith but leaves them in their willful unbelief. As He says, "Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep" (John 10:26).

Jesus, by the preaching, seeks His own, "and he calleth his own sheep by name" (John 10:3). Jesus teaches a sovereign choice of God to save some men and give them faith: election. And he teaches a sovereign righteous choice of God to reject the others and condemn them in their unbelief: reprobation.

In harmony with His Father's determination, Jesus preached in parables to the people. When asked the reason by His disciples, He points to the prophet Isaiah (Is. 6:10) and explains God's intended purpose. "And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them" (Mark 4:11, 12). God chose to save His people, to reveal Himself and His Son Jesus Christ to them, and infallibly to call them to faith in Christ. But God also, according to His determination, sovereignly leaves the others in their sins. He sends His word to some that they might see and be left without excuse, and yet not believe and be saved, for they are not His sheep.

In harmony with this truth Jesus repeatedly speaks of this choice of God, and of His own choosing as the Son of God. When speaking of the tribulation of His church and their salvation, Jesus says of the last days, " And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: But for the elect's sake, whom He hath chosen, he hath shortened the days," Mark 13:20. While the text focuses on the last days, in the language Jesus uses, He also explains election. It is God's choice. When it comes to the preaching of the gospel many are called by the word preached, but that some believe is a matter of God's choice. He says, "Many are called, but few chosen," ( Matt. 22:14; see also Matt. 20:16). Salvation depends on God's choice and not man's.

That choice includes Jesus' calling His disciples. This was not, however, a mere choosing of men for office. Such an explanation is too superficial. We read, "Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" (John 6:70). In saying this Jesus was responding to the confession Peter made of their faith in Christ, "And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," (John 6:69). That confession was one which Peter and the disciples did not make of themselves. It was rooted in God's powerful work of grace in them. Jesus speaks of this same confession on another occasion when He says to Peter, "for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee but my Father which is in heaven," Matt. 16:17. Peter's confession,"thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," was not Peter's work but God's sovereign work in him, God's revelation. He did not make that confession by the power of Peter's choice, or any will of his own flesh, but by the power of grace. God had chosen him in Christ.

Thus Jesus says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit," John 15:16. Jesus' words are clear. It is He who chose His own. The disciples did not make their decision for Christ. Christ, according to the will of God, chose them. The fruit they should bear as His servants, through faith and by the labor of the gospel, was also His and not theirs. He ordained them, not only to office, but to be fruitful. The fruit of their labor in the gathering of the church was also ordained of God in Christ. Jesus explains the reason for this: "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word," John 17:6. They were chosen and given to Christ and He to them. This is true not of the disciples only, but of all of Jesus' sheep, who should believe through the word of the gospel (John 17:20) and whom Jesus wills that they should be with Him as those given Him of the Father (John 17:24).

Jesus teaches God's choice in Him unto salvation and faith. It is a false christ of man's invention who offers himself to all for man's sovereign choice to accept or reject him. Faith is not a decision but a gift of God.

By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor

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